The Mine Overlay Site Testing (MOST) facility—the first of its kind in the world dedicated to mine cover system research, design and testing—will contribute to better understanding in the area of mine closures, specifically mine waste cover systems and reclamation strategies, said Jeffrey McDonnell, head of the MOST facility and GIWS associate director.
“Mine closure is one of the largest costs of the mining enterprise—designing a cover system is complex and expensive and involves predicting how the cover responds to environmental elements,” said McDonnell.
Mine covers, McDonnell continued, are designed to return a site to its natural condition and isolate waste material so it does not damage the environment.
“The Government of Canada is committed to supporting innovative research at our post-secondary institutions,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, and minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “By supporting the work at the GIWS Mine Overlay Site Testing facility, we are also helping Canadian businesses innovate and grow while better responding to environmental needs.”
The new MOST facility will allow mining companies, consultants and researchers to “design and test soil cover systems under varying climatic conditions before building covers on-site, saving both time and money in the design and testing phases,” McDonnell explained.
The facility will house research and equipment that can assist in predicting freeze-thaw effects and water flow paths on hillslopes, simulating rainfall and using high-tech instrumentation for tracking water molecules through the environment.
“Mining is an integral part of Saskatchewan’s economy and as the province developed its resources, the university developed a signature area of expertise in energy and mineral resources and related technologies that support a sustainable environment,” said Karen Chad, U of S vice-president research. “This facility is a shining example of our unique capabilities in this area and we welcome the opportunity to support an industry that is so vital to Saskatchewan’s economic prosperity.”
Construction of the facility, located next to the Crop Science Field Laboratory at the crossing of Preston and 108th Street in Saskatoon, was completed in early 2016 and supported by $1.8 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
The MOST facility program is a joint initiative supported by the U of S, Western Economic Diversification Canada, O’Kane Consultants, Syncrude Canada Limited and Saskatchewan Research Council.
For more information, contact:
Global Institute for Water Security/School of Environment and Sustainability